Not to be morbid, but we will all die someday. It’s one of the few things you can count on. But it’s never too early to consider what you want others to think about you after you’re gone.
A few individuals leave a grand legacy of wealth to those they love. But most people leave an intangible legacy for their family, friends, and co-workers. They leave the love, admiration, and respect they’ve evoked in others.
Writers are in an interesting position to leave a tangible legacy—words others will remember us by for years to come. Even though tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, you still have time to create an amazing legacy.
Here are questions to help guide how you can shape your life today to create the legacy you want most.
Consider your friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances
- What do those closest think about me and what will they remember most?
- What have I learned that I want to pass on? What changed my life that can help others?
- Have I positively affected my children/grandchildren?
- Do I need to make amends with anyone?
- Will I be remembered in a positive light?
- Will I be remembered as living my life to the fullest extent, or as someone to whom life simply happened?
- Was my life respectable in a way that others could use as an example to follow?
- What are my morals, beliefs, and values? Would I want someone to follow in my footsteps?
- What do I need to change now to create the best legacy I can leave?
Now consider how you can offer something tangible for those you leave behind.
Tangible legacies writers can leave
Think beyond the blog posts, articles, and other content you’ve written for clients (although that, too, will live on). Here are big things, tangible ones, that you can leave behind for others to remember you.
1. Write a non-fiction book
You have plenty of knowledge and wisdom from years of writing. Why not leave that wealth of information for the next generation? Write a non-fiction how-to book to help others along the way. Give your best pointers and help others writers avoid the pitfalls you discovered. If you can shorten and ease one writer’s journey, consider that a fantastic legacy.
2. Write a book about your family
Research your family’s background and write a book for the generations to come. You could dig back in the records of your ancestors and leave a history book specifically about your family line. Your children, your children’s children, and their children will thank you someday.
3. Build an income-generating website
Use your writing skills to create a dense, content-filled website around your favorite hobby or interest. Then learn how to monetize it. Put your passions and skills to the test to build something memorable. You’ll end up with passive income every month from your money-making website. And you can bequeath it to your children.
4. Write your memoir
This may seem self-indulgent, but your children and grandchildren will love having an in-depth look into your life one day. You have so many stories to pass on, and your descendants can look to your memoir to understand how your choices shaped their lives. You don’t need to have your memoir published; just share it with those you love.
5. Write fiction
Here’s the biggie: Write that fiction book you’ve been dreaming about. The world is waiting to hear your voice. What could be more powerful than to touch someone deeply or entertain them when they need it most through the written word? And a book can live much longer than you can.
Be prolific; you’ll get better with each book. Self-publish or publish traditionally, whichever works for you. People will enjoy your words for generations to come.
When you choose the writer’s life, you can leave a tangible legacy behind. Benjamin Franklin says it best:
- "If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
And more recently, Chuck Palahniuk said:
- "We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will."
What story do you want as your legacy? Let us know in the comments below.